Transport Secretary Grant Shapps launches his bid for the Conservative Party leadership today in The Mail on Sunday with a simple pitch – “I can win you in the election”.
His confidence stems from his experience as party leader in 2015 — “I helped David Cameron win,” he says — his campaigning courage and his love of spreadsheets.
He promises to “instinctly” advocate for tax cuts and red tape, adding: “The level of taxes is totally unsustainable. We have to keep money in people’s pockets.’ However, he lacks the details of how to achieve that.
The cabinet minister has criticized the way so many taxpayers have been enticed into paying higher tax rates as tax thresholds have not moved in line with inflation. “People are not stupid,” says Mr Shapps.
Last week he used his numbers skills to urge Boris Johnson to resign while the Prime Minister was in his Downing Street bunker vowing to stay and telling him he would lose a second confidence vote.
He’s not deterred by falling behind in the leaderboard, and as someone who’s avoided death twice – in a serious car accident and by beating cancer – he relishes defying the odds and coming out on top. We meet at his Westminster office on Friday as he calls Tory MPs for support.
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps launches his bid for Conservative Party leader today in The Mail on Sunday with a simple pitch – “I can win you in the election”.
His team says the 53-year-old, unlike many of his cabinet colleagues, has not spent the past few months plotting a lead run. Backbenchers appear to confirm this, saying his calls began on Wednesday when it was clear the end was near for Boris.
But while MPs and ministers called for Mr Johnson’s head on a plate, the family of Ukrainian refugees who Mr Shapps has taken into his home mourned the prime minister’s ouster.
He says: “They were really sad to see him go. Say what you like about Boris Johnson, in my opinion you cannot fault his approach to Ukraine. They understand that intuitively.”
The three-generation family has settled in well – although their dog has scared away his two cats. Staying has taught Mr Shapps – himself a third-generation immigrant – that “freedom doesn’t come free”.
He says he feels sorry for the Prime Minister on a human level and recalls Mr Johnson’s own near-death from Covid at the start of the pandemic – but reveals it was ‘frustrating’ to sit at the cabinet table during these ‘self-inflicted’ scandals .
“You have all these other distractions – not just Covid – but self-inflicted government, No. 10 things, which means too much of the machine has been dealing with things that don’t affect people’s daily lives, but that of the Prime Minister’s position, frankly.’
His confidence stems from his experience as party leader in 2015 — “I helped David Cameron win,” he says — his campaigning courage and his love of spreadsheets
Despite this, he repeatedly defended the government on the air as it went from crisis to crisis. Why? He says he understood people’s anger and felt it himself. His father went to hospital with a stroke in December 2020 before catching Covid there and Mr Shapps did not see him for four months – except once “through a window”.
He promises to restore integrity to public life, citing his leadership of the Department of Transport and low turnover in his MP’s office. Accountability is key, he says, adding that he insists on audit trails and putting every decision in writing, with designated officials standing on documents to know who made them.
“Efficiency in government comes from the top down,” he says.
Born in Hertfordshire, Welwyn Hatfield MP became involved in politics from an early age and started a printing business by the age of 21.
He has survived two encounters with death. One was a car accident in Kansas when he was 20 and traveling in the US. The car rolled over five times, throwing Mr Shapps out. He was in a coma for almost a week and says there’s a 50-50 chance of getting out of it. A decade later, he was diagnosed with cancer Hodgkin’s lymphoma and had chemotherapy and radiation therapy for a year. Again, he beat the odds. Recalling both of them now, he says: “I’m a fighter. I don’t mind being the underdog.’
He completed an economics and finance course at Manchester Polytechnic and points out that he doesn’t come from the typical “PSA in Oxford” background of many Westminster Tory colleagues, such as top leaders Liz Truss and Rishi Sunak, both of philosophy, politics and study economics there.
As a teenager, Mr Shapps said he was “never particularly rebellious” and spent his time programming and selling video games. The self-confessed “geek” says: “I have a table for everything!”
When asked if he’s done drugs, he says, “I’ve never done hard drugs. I was in Amsterdam. In other words – never where it was illegal.’ When asked if that means he’s had cannabis, he adds, “I’m not sure if I’ve actually tried it or just sat in a tea room.”
In 2015, he resigned as minister after allegedly failing to address allegations of bullying within the party that may have led to an activist’s suicide. As the then co-chairman, he said: “The goat stops with me.”
He says the party has told ministers not to speak directly to the family but to turn to lawyers, which he is uncomfortable with. He resigned, although he says David Cameron asked him not to do so and says he contacted her privately.
As transport minister, he took a hard line in the wage dispute between the railway unions. Wage increases are possible, he says, but only if the employee contracts ensure uniform Sunday work, for example. Once “Remain-lite”, he supported Brexit after the vote in 2016 and now welcomes its opportunities and freedoms. He wants the UK to become the largest economy in Europe by 2050 and praises the potential of investing in technologies like hydrogen.
He had to deal with his own scandal after it was revealed he was using pseudonyms to publish marketing guides. He has been accused of hiding a second job but insists all ‘pseudonyms’ were historical, as were any publishing earnings earned.
“Workers have weaponized it. It was a lot of nonsense,” he says. “Maybe it’s a bit garish now when I look back, but it’s bloody old history.”
Referring to the country, Mr Shapps says “we’re stuck in a hole” – pointing to everything from paying the bill for Covid, to inflation, rising energy costs and the global impact of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
However, his concrete agenda has not yet been set, and he speaks more in terms of his “instincts” as a conservative than political commitments.
https://www.soundhealthandlastingwealth.com/uncategorized/grant-shapps-launches-confident-bid-for-tory-leadership-as-he-vows-to-cut-the-cost-of-living/ Grant Shapps makes his confident bid for Tory leadership and promises to cut the cost of living